HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – March is Irish American Heritage Month and celebrations have already begun in the City of Holyoke.

An Irish flag-raising ceremony was held on Wednesday at Holyoke City Hall. This event was just the start of a month full of Irish-American heritage celebrations.

Mayor Joshua A. Garcia was joined by city officials, Hibernian President Joe O’Connor as the Master of Ceremonies, St. Patrick’s Parade President Karen Casey, Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians President Paula Paoli, and Irish Cultural Center of Western New England President Sean Cahillane. Piper Matt O’Connor played the pipes, along with the American and Irish Anthems sung by Sheila Moreau.

The Hibernians of Hampden/Hampshire Counties have hosted a flag raising each year since congress established the monthly observance back in 1991. The event featured several guest speakers and Irish music.

22News spoke with Hibernian President, Joe O’Connor, who explained why the month of March is so special for the Holyoke Irish community. “It’s a very, very high-energy month for us, with the parade, meeting people, meeting family, coming together and just having a good time.”

The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade is just a few short weeks away, taking place on Sunday, March 19th.